Eric James requires dialysis at Royal Jubilee Hospital three days a week and feels lucky the city has a nocturnal program where he can sleep through the treatment. (Courtesy Eric James)

Eric James requires dialysis at Royal Jubilee Hospital three days a week and feels lucky the city has a nocturnal program where he can sleep through the treatment. (Courtesy Eric James)

Victoria man pleads for a kidney – for himself and others

‘It feels weird asking someone for money, let alone a piece of themselves’

With a B-positive blood type, Eric James tries to make it a personal motto too while battling piling medical concerns, including needing a kidney.

The Victoria resident recently found his voice in his fifth year of energy-draining dialysis treatments.

“We know that five donors come forward when they’re able to put a face and a name to a story,” James told Black Press Media. “I’m willing to share my story, I’m willing to be open … and I’m not just by myself. I’m pointing to the group of people who are with me, who are in the same boat.”

The last couple of weeks in particular have been rough health-wise. Nearly five years of dialysis is likely the root cause of his recent mild congestive heart failure. That was the final push to finally start speaking openly and publicly about donation – to actively recruit.

“It feels weird asking someone for money, let alone a piece of themselves,” he admitted.

James posted a proposition on social media Monday (Nov. 21), calling for anyone interested in live donation to contact him for more information. By Wednesday he had received and responded to dozens of messages, emails and notes of support. It didn’t surprise him.

“One of the things I lack is a platform to share my message. I already know the people of Victoria are altruistic and usually aware of the world around them,” he said.

He knew Greater Victoria residents would hear him and respond. “It’s how our city is.”

For those who ask, he shares information from BC Transplant or gives them the living donor program phone number (1-877-922-9822) at St. Paul’s Hospital, one of two adult kidney transplant centres in the province.

READ ALSO: Former Flame turned Oak Bay fire prevention officer chases third kidney transplant

Living donors are often related to the recipient, but they don’t have to be, which is good for James. His kidney disease is hereditary. A donor can also be a friend or a member of the community.

“It’s much more viable and you’re better able to plan a little bit better,” James explained of living donations.

“I can only have one kidney,” he noted. “Hopefully one of these people will be the one that helps me out. But my story is the same as many on the dialysis unit who just have different faces and different names.”

The former Langford resident moved closer to Royal Jubilee Hospital in 2019, as dialysis takes a toll and the travel became daunting.

“It’s not ideal but it is keeping me alive,” he said.

He attends three days a week and feels fortunate the Victoria hospital has a nocturnal program. He starts dialysis at 10 p.m. and finishes at 6 a.m.

“Most people do the four, three-hour runs, during the day,” he said, noting a profound impact on life, work, education and family life.

“There are some misconceptions that you come out feeling great … most days you feel OK. Some days you feel absolutely terrible,” he said. “You’re always grateful but it’s not a solution.”

Learn more at transplant.bc.ca or email James at ejamesYYJ@gmail.com.

christine.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca


 

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